According to the bone marrow/stem cell transplant site,, ” melodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases that affect the bone marrow and blood. Some types of MDS are mild and easily managed, while other types are severe and life-threatening. Mild MDS can grow more severe over time. It can also develop into a fast-growing, severe leukemia called acute myelogenous leukemia.”

ABC news anchor and Good Morning America host, Robin Roberts, made news (not enough, it you ask me!) a few weeks back when she announced on-air that she had developed MDS five years after receiving chemotherapy for her breast cancer.

But mainstream media writers just don’t get it.  Read this short article and then prep youself for my scathing comments on the other side…

Cancer treatment likely triggered Robin Roberts’ rare MDS

Detroit Free Press and Baltimore Sun – June 24, 2012

By Andrea K. Walker

“Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts, who told viewers in an emotional announcement earlier this month that she has the rare disorder myelodysplastic syndromes, will soon get a bone marrow transplant from her sister.

MDS is a group of disorders that cause the bone marrow to produce an inadequate number of healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cells in the bone marrow that make blood cells don’t mature, don’t make enough blood cells or make defective cells.

About 10,000 to 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, and 80% of cases are in people over age 60. Roberts is 51.

In some cases, MDS can lead to cancer.

Treatments include blood cell and platelet transfusions, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, according to the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation. The disease can develop after exposure to certain chemicals or radiation. Roberts was treated for breast cancer five years ago and told her colleagues in a letter that the treatment likely caused the disease.

Roberts will not be on the air during recovery from the transplant.

I’m not sure where to start.

Living with a hematological cancer like I do, I guess that I’m more aware about how high the risk is of developing a secondary cancer after or even during–chemotherapy–can be.

Because my immediate reaction to this article was, “Really?  Infusing a bunch of carcinogenic toxin into her body messed her blood up?  Big surprise!”

My second reaction was, “Undergoing a donor (allogeneic) stem cell transplant (formerly called bone marrow transplants) is A REALLY BIG DEAL!  It will require months of inpatient and/or outpatient hospitalization, followed by years of follow-up therapy and meds.

So I’m hoping her high profile in the news media will help raise awareness about these these things.

And last but not least, I feel so bad for her!  Let’s just say she isn’t heading out for a picnic!  Good luck, Robin!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

2 thoughts on “Why TV personality Robin Roberts’ MDS diagnosis is such a big deal…

  1. Pat you write:

    “Because my immediate reaction to this article was, “Really? Infusing a bunch of carcinogenic toxin into her body messed her blood up? Big surprise!”

    You are sooooo right!!…the problem is most patients don’t know this is a possibility. At the time the therapy is recommended they only think that if they don’t do it they will die. Typically, they are not given other choices.

    A really sad statistic as well is that 50% of patients don’t survive.

    Roberts, is very fortunate that she has the opportunity for allogenic, but man, is it ever going to be a grueling comeback.

    I wish her well.

    How can we raise awareness about this …I think that is a great suggestion.
    Patients need to know this, and hopefully be able to make a far more informed decision.

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